What Is OLED And Why Is It Everywhere?
Today we are going to talk about OLED screens. We’re going to go over what they are, and why they’re such a big deal when it comes to our smartphones, TVs, and other screens.
Hopefully, by the end of this you’ll understand why
OLEDs are selling point when it comes to our technology.
I do want to say I am not an expert. I am just sharing what I learned from various sources. That way you don’t have to read all of that yourself. These sources can be found at the end of this post.
What is OLED
First off, let us learn what OLED is. OLED is an acronym which stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode.
So you may be familiar with another display technology called LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display. And if you don’t, I will cover that in the future.
But, where OLED differs from LCD is in the “organic” nature. You see a diode is a source of light. An organic diode is a diode which has a thin film of organic compound.
This organic compound emits light when an electrical current is passed through it. The organic material gets placed between two electrodes. These electrodes are what provide the electrical current.
Because the electrodes are transparent the light which the diode generates passes through one of the diodes. This light is what we see on the displays of our TVs, smartphones, etc.
What technology uses OLED
OLED display technology is everywhere. From TVs, to smartphones.
Smartwatches to game consoles.
The new Nintendo Switch OLED which was released recently focuses on the OLED screen which was added. As if you couldn’t tell that from the name.
Thanks to LG leading the way, OLED TVs have been a common thing since 2015.
Now here is where things begin to split a bit.
There are different flavors of OLED. I won’t go into all of them, but I will focus on the one used mostly with mobile devices such as smartphones and the Nintendo Switch.
You may have heard of AMOLED when manufacturers market their devices. AMOLED stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. And yes that is a mouthful.
AMOLED pixels have strips of thin film transistors behind them. Thanks to this thin layer the electrical currents are able to move quicker. Thanks to this the display is more reactive and responsive.
This makes AMOLED screens perfect for mobile devices like smartphones
and gaming systems like the Nintendo Switch. Games and fast moving applications benefit a lot from AMOLED screen technology.
OLED Advantage 1: No need for a backlight
With those brief explanations out of the way let us talk about why OLED screens are used and marketed so much. To start off let us recognize that OLED is a youngish technology. Back in the day LCD was the big display tech on the block. In case you forgot, LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display.
Smartphones and televisions relied on this display technology. Now, LCDs have liquid crystals, obviously, which do not emit light on their own.
For this reason LCDs need a backlight in order for light to pass through them. I’m sure you see one advantage OLED has over LCDs already. If you forgot, OLED screens can emit their own light.
Thanks to this ability, there is no need for a backlight. There are a couple of advantages that come from not needing a backlight.
First off, no backlight means a slimmer display. A slimmer display helps manufactures make their smartphones, televisions, laptops, and more thinner.
And as we know, manufacturers are obsessed with making the thinnest devices.
OLED Advantage 2: Perfect blacks
Another advantage of OLED screens is the ability to show perfect blacks. Thanks to the diodes being able to light up individually, if there is black on the screen it is really black. As in there is no light shining through whatever is black on the screen.
LCD screens can not turn off their backlights. This means the blacks on LCDs aren’t pure like with OLED screens. In addition to perfect blacks OLED displays provide infinite contrast, and have better viewing angles compared to LCD and LED displays.
OLED Advantage 3: Flexible
Now, you may have heard that Samsung released its Fold 4 and Flip 4 smartphones. These foldable devices are technological marvels. I bring this up because OLED screens are more flexible than LCD or LED screens.
This makes it easier for manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and others make foldable devices. AMOLED is the flavor of OLED used in the Galaxy Fold and Surface Duo devices.
OLED Advantage 4: Great for battery life
And one last advantage, which is my favorite, is the battery saving powers of OLED displays. Thanks to not having a dedicated always on backlight, OLED displays consume much less energy than their LCD and LED counterparts.
However, this can be a two way street. Higher resolution OLED displays can reduce battery life because of the extra pixels. Too much of a good thing right?
So at this point it sounds like OLED displays are amazing and perfect right? Well, nothing is perfect. Here are a few disadvantages of OLED displays.
OLED Disadvantage 1: Not as bright as LCD
Almost, everyone loves a TV with a big beautiful vibrant bright screen. And because of this we come to our first disadvantage. OLED screens can’t get as bright as LCD screens. Which makes sense since LCD displays have that dedicated backlight.
This is one reason why LCD LED displays are used in TVs. With LCD LED displays buyers get brighter and more vibrant HDR TVs. Another disadvantage of OLED displays is image burn-in.
OLED Disadvantage 2: Burn-in
You may have heard of burn-in before. Burn-in happens when static images which are constantly displayed for a long time and leaves its own ghost image.
At best, your screen may suffer from what is called image retention. This is a temporary ghost image which gets left behind. At worst, your screen can suffer burn-in which is a permanent ghost image.
Do not worry though. It takes using an OLED TV that does not fall within its normal usage. Also, manufacturers know that humans will always find a way to break things.
As a result, these companies have implemented solutions to reduce the chance of image retention or burn-in.
By using screensavers and reducing brightness in areas of the display where static elements are, manufacturers can help keep your OLED TV safe from ghost images.
OLED Disadvantage 3: Doesn’t last as long as LCD
Unfortunately, even if you use your OLED TV well within its normal operations, the display will not last as long as LCD displays.
The organic material in OLED displays degrade over time. This leads to poor image quality. Which you know is kind of an important part of a display.
OLED Disadvantage 4: Can be hard to see in direct sunlight
One last disadvantage of OLED displays stems from its lack of high brightness.
Sunlight or just bright light shining directly on an OLED screen can affect the contrast of the screen.
We have all been experienced a time when we’re outside trying to use our phones, laptop, Nintendo Switch, etc. and we could barely see the screen. But OLED screens are still evolving.
And, there are some new OLED technologies which allow OLED displays to attain higher levels of brightness.
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